Posts Tagged ‘Muslims’

Bangladesh imposes mobile phone ban on Rohingya refugees

September 24, 2017

AFP

© AFP/File | Bangladesh mobile phone providers have been threatened with fines if they provide any of the nearly 430,000 newly arrived refugees from Myanmar with phone plans

DHAKA (BANGLADESH) (AFP) – Bangladesh has banned telecommunication companies from selling mobile phone connections to Rohingya refugees, citing security concerns for the latest restrictions, officials said Sunday.Bangladesh’s four mobile phone providers were threatened with fines if they provide any of the nearly 430,000 newly arrived refugees from Myanmar with phone plans while the ban is in force.

“For the time being, they (Rohingya) can’t buy any SIM cards,” Enayet Hossain, a senior officer at the telecoms ministry, told AFP on Sunday.

The decision Saturday to impose a communication blackout on the stateless Muslim minority was justified for security reasons, said junior telecoms minister Tarana Halim.

Bangladesh already prohibits the sale of SIM cards to its own citizens who cannot provide an official identity card, in a bid to frustrate the organisational capacity of homegrown militants.

“We took the step (of welcoming the Rohingya) on humanitarian grounds but at the same time our own security should not be compromised,” Halim said, without elaborating on what specific risk the Rohingya posed.

Bangladesh’s telecoms authority said the ban could be lifted once biometric identity cards are issued to the newly arrived refugees, a process the army says could take six months.

It is just the latest restriction imposed on the Rohingya who have fled in huge numbers from violence in neighbouring Rakhine State into squalid camps in Bangladesh’s southernmost Cox’s Bazar district in the past four weeks.

The nearly 430,000 refugees have been herded by the military into a handful of overstretched camps near the border, where tens of thousands live in the open without shelter.

Many have been evicted from squatting in forest and farmlands by police and soldiers, who have been ordered to keep the Rohingya from seeking shelter in major cities and nearby towns.

Roadblocks have been erected along major routes from the camp zones, where a dire shortage of food, water, shelter and toilets is creating what aid groups describe as a humanitarian crisis.

Some 5,100 have already been stopped at these checkpoints and returned to the designated camps, police said.

“We have set up 11 check posts across the Cox’s Bazar highway to stop the Rohingya refugees from spreading further toward the interior,” Cox’s Bazar police chief Iqbal Hossain told reporters.

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Fires rage in Rakhine as Myanmar army blames Rohingya for mosque blast

September 23, 2017

AFP

© AFP/File | Smoke billows from a fire in an area in Myanmar’s Rakhine state as seen from the Bangladeshi shore of the Naf river on September 14, 2017

SITTWE (MYANMAR) (AFP) – Myanmar’s army chief on Saturday blamed Rohinyga militants for an explosion outside a mosque in Rakhine state, as a rights group accused the military of starting fires in the region to prevent refugees from returning.The unrest comes days after Myanmar’s civilian leader Aung San Suu Kyi declared troops had ceased “clearance operations” in the border area that have forced more than 430,000 Rohingya refugees to flee for Bangladesh in under a month.

The army claims it is targeting Rohingya militants who attacked police posts on August 25. But its operation has been so sweeping and brutal that the UN says it likely amounts to “ethnic cleansing” of the Rohingya Muslim minority, a group reviled by many in the mainly Buddhist country.

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 Min Aung Hlaing

On Saturday Myanmar’s commander-in-chief Min Aung Hlaing posted a statement on Facebook saying Rohingya militants planted a “home-made mine” that exploded in between a mosque and madrasa in northern Rakhine’s Buthidaung township on Friday.

The army chief accused the militants of trying to drive out around 700 hundred villagers who have remained in Mi Chaung Zay — an argument analysts have said makes little sense for a group whose power depends on the networks it has built across Rohingya communities.

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Min Aung Hlaing and Aung San Suu Kyi

“As our villagers did not want to leave their homes, the terrorists blew up the bomb during the prayer time as a way of terrorizing the villagers,” the army chief’s statement said.

“It is the act of ARSA terrorist group,” it added, using an acronym for the Rohingya militant group whose raids on police posts in August triggered the military backlash.

No one was reported injured in the explosion.

With the government blocking access to the conflict zone, it is difficult to verify the swirl of claims and counterclaims over who is driving the unrest, which has also displaced tens of thousands of Buddhists and Hindus.

But rights groups say there is overwhelming evidence that the army is using its crackdown on militants to systematically purge the 1.1-million strong stateless Rohingya from its borders.

– Fires and land mines –

On Friday Amnesty International said new videos and satellite imagery confirmed fires were still ripping through Rohingya villages, scores of which have already been burned to the ground.

“Not satisfied with simply forcing Rohingya from their homes, authorities seem intent on ensuring they have no homes to return to,” said Tirana Hasan from Amnesty.

According to government figures, nearly 40 percent of Rohingya villages in nothern Rakhine have been completely abandoned over the past month.

Many of those who stayed behind are now living in isolated Muslim communities, gripped by fear and cut off from crucial aid, according to the UN’s humanitarian coordination office, UNOCHA.

“Following continuous threats from local Rakhine people to leave, many of these vulnerable people are so terrified that they are calling the Government, the UN and others asking for additional measures to protect them,” UNOCHA said in its latest update.

Human Rights Watch on Saturday also echoed allegations from Bangladeshi officials that Myanmar security forces were laying landmines along the border, where hundreds of thousands of Rohingya have crossed in the largest mass refugee movement in recent decades.

“The dangers faced by thousands of Rohingya fleeing atrocities in Burma are deadly enough without adding landmines to the mix,” said Meenakshi Ganguly, HRW’s South Asia director.

“The Burmese military needs to stop using these banned weapons, which kill and maim without distinction.”

FILE - A man stands in front of a mosque as it burns in Meikhtila, Myanmar, March 21, 2013. A high-level government official in Myanmar’s Rakhine State is set on demolishing hundreds of buildings, including mosques and Islamic religious schools.

FILE – A man stands in front of a mosque as it burns in Meikhtila, Myanmar, March 21, 2013. A high-level government official in Myanmar’s Rakhine State is set on demolishing hundreds of buildings, including mosques and Islamic religious schools.

India Using Chilli Sprays, Stun Grenades to Dissuade Rohingya Muslim Influx

September 22, 2017

NEW DELHI — India has stepped up security along its largely porous eastern border with Bangladesh and is using “chilli and stun grenades” to block the entry of Rohingya Muslims fleeing from violence in their homeland of Myanmar, officials said on Friday.

Border forces in Hindu-majority India, which wants to deport around 40,000 Rohingya already living in the country, citing security risks, have been authorized to use “rude and crude” methods to stop any infiltration attempts.

“We don’t want to cause any serious injury or arrest them, but we won’t tolerate Rohingya on Indian soil,” said a senior official with the Border Security Force (BSF) in New Delhi.

“We’re using grenades containing chilli spray to stop hundreds of Rohingyas trying to enter India … the situation is tense,” added the official, who declined to be identified as he was not authorized to speak to media.

More than 420,000 Rohingya have fled to Bangladesh since Aug. 25, when a coordinated attack by Rohingya insurgents on Myanmar security forces triggered a counteroffensive, killing at least 400 people, mainly militants. The United Nations has called the assault a “textbook example of ethnic cleansing”.

Densely populated Bangladesh is struggling to shelter all the refugees desperate for space to set up shacks, sparking worries in India that the influx could spill into its territory.

R.P.S. Jaswal, a deputy inspector general of the BSF patrolling a large part of the border in India’s eastern state of West Bengal, said his troops were told to use both chilli grenades and stun grenades to push back the Rohingya.

A chilli grenade makes use of a naturally-occurring compound in chilli powder to cause severe irritation and temporarily immobilize its target.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s Hindu nationalist government is growing increasingly hostile towards the Rohingya in India, with Home Minister Rajnath Singh calling on Thursday for their deportation as illegal migrants.

Seeking to get legal clearance for the deportation plan, the home ministry told the Supreme Court this week it would confidentially provide it with intelligence information showing Rohingya links with Pakistan-based militants.

Most of the peaceloving refugees had no link to criminal activity, two Rohingya men protesting against the deportation move told India’s top court on Friday.

An official of India’s federal investigations agency said it was seeking help from Muslim religious leaders to step up surveillance of the Rohingya.

Police have arrested a suspected al Qaeda member they believe was trying to recruit Rohingya in the country to fight security forces in Myanmar. More than 270 Rohingya have been in Indian jails since 2014.

“Our investigations have revealed that Al Qaeda wants to use India and Bangladesh as their base to start a religious war against Myanmar,” said New Delhi police official Pramod Singh Khuswah. “Clearly they are a threat to our security.”

(Editing by Krishna N. Das and Clarence Fernandez)

Macron says Rohingya crisis in Myanmar is ‘genocide’

September 21, 2017

AFP

Paris | Thu, September 21, 2017 | 07:56 am

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UN Assembly: Malawi’s President Arthur Peter Mutharika (from left), French President Emmanuel Macron and UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres attend the 72nd Session of the United Nations General assembly at the UN headquarters in New York on September 20, 2017. (AFP/Ludovic Marin)

French President Emmanuel Macron on Wednesday said attacks on Myanmar’s Rohingya minority amounted to “genocide”.

France will work with other members of the UN Security Council for a condemnation of “this genocide which is unfolding, this ethnic cleansing”, Macron said in an interview with the French TV channel TMC.

Macron’s use of the word “genocide” marks his strongest verbal attack yet on the military drive against the Rohingya.

More than 420,000 members of the Muslim minority have fled Myanmar for the safety of neighbouring Bangladesh.

“We must condemn the ethnic purification which is under way and act,” Macron said.

“Asking for the violence to end, asking for humanitarian access… progressively enables an escalation” under UN auspices, Macron said.

“When the UN issues a condemnation, there are consequences which can provide a framework for intervention under the UN,” Macron said.

Rohingya, who are predominantly Muslim, are reviled by many in Buddhist-majority Myanmar.

The UN human rights chief has described the systematic attacks against the Rohingya minority by the security forces as a “textbook example of ethnic cleansing”.

Reactions to speech by Myanmar’s Suu Kyi on violence in Rakhine State

September 19, 2017

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Myanmar State Counselor Aung San Suu Kyi delivers a speech to the nation over Rakhine and Rohingya situation, in Naypyitaw, Myanmar September 19, 2017. REUTERS – Soe Zeya Tun

NAYPYITAW (Reuters) – Myanmar leader Aung San Suu Kyi on Tuesday gave her first address to the nation since attacks by Rohingya Muslim insurgents on Aug. 25 sparked a military response that has forced more than 410,000 Rohingya into neighboring Bangladesh.

Suu Kyi condemned human rights violations and said anyone responsible would face the law but she did not address U.N. accusations that the military campaign in Rakhine state was “textbook” ethnic cleansing.

Here are some reactions to her speech from diplomats, aid agency officials, human rights groups and others:

JAMES GOMEZ, Amnesty International regional director for Southeast Asia and the Pacific.

“Aung San Suu Kyi today demonstrated that she and her government are still burying their heads in the sand over the horrors unfolding in Rakhine State.”

PHIL ROBERTSON, Human Rights Watch deputy director, Asia Division.

In response to Suu Kyi’s statement that army clearance operations have ceased since Sept. 5 – “If that is true, then who is burning all the villages we’ve seen in the past two weeks?”

TIN MAUNG SWE, secretary of the Rakhine State government

He praised Suu Kyi for her “transparency” but was not optimistic about her pledge to promote harmony between Muslims and the largely Buddhist ethnic Rakhine communities in the state.

“The situation is ready to explode. It just needs a single spark.”

SEIN WIN, Myanmar defense minister

“We will protect the ones who are in line with the law … There are still many Muslim villages. We are taking good care of them,” he said, as he arrived for Suu Kyi’s speech.

PAUL EDWARDS, UNICEF deputy representative in Myanmar

“We have to take at face value what she said about there being no further military operation since Sept 5. But of course none of us really know what’s happening there if we’re not there.”

MARZUKI DARUSMAN, chair of the Independent International Fact-Finding Mission on Myanmar

“Two main issues emerge … the categorical readiness of the government of Myanmar to receive back returnees at any time on the basis of a procedure that will have to be discussed at some point. And secondly, the readiness of the government to undertake to be globally scrutinized by the international community. These two points bode well.”

HONG LIANG, Chinese ambassador to Myanmar

“China’s position is very clear. We support the Myanmar government’s effort to restore the peace and stability in Rakhine.”

NIKOLAY A. LISTOPADOV, Russian ambassador to Myanmar

“There are not reliable proofs, evidence to make such a condemnation, genocide and ethnic cleansing, no evidence.”

ANDREW KIRKWOOD, United Nations Office for Project Services director and representative in Myanmar

He welcomed Suu Kyi’s announcement that diplomats could travel to Rakhine state to see the situation for themselves.

“I think that that is a positive statement and we wait to see what follow-up there is.”

NI LAR THEIN, Yangon resident attending an open-air broadcast of Suu Kyi’s speech, which was in English.

“Mother Suu gave a speech today so that the whole world can know what’s actually happening in our country. We come here to show our support for her, no matter if we understand the speech or not.”

Reporting by Myanmar bureau, Tom Miles in GENEVA; Writing by Karishma Singh; Editing by Clarence Fernandez

China Stands With Myanmar: “We Understand the Problems” (China has experience with Muslims)

September 19, 2017

The Associated Press

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Myanmar’s State Counsellor Aung San Suu Kyi delivers a televised speech to the nation at the Myanmar International Convention Center in Naypyitaw, Myanmar, Tuesday, Sept. 19, 2017. (AP Photo/Aung Shine Oo)

NAYPYIDAW, Myanmar (AP) — The Latest on the violence in Myanmar’s Rakhine state and the exodus of hundreds of thousands of Rohingya Muslims to Bangladesh (all times local):11:50 a.m.

Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi says that Beijing “understands and supports Myanmar’s efforts to maintain national stability.”

Wang’s comments, made in New York during a meeting with U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres, came amid a surge in violence in Myanmar, with hundreds of thousands of Muslim Rohingyas fleeing their villages for safety in Bangladesh. Myanmar’s government conducted what it called “clearance operations” after deadly insurgent attacks last month, but the refugees have said security forces and mobs carried out indiscriminate killings and arsons that burned out Rohingya enclaves in the predominantly Buddhist nation.

The comments were released Tuesday by the Chinese Foreign Ministry.

Wang also said that “China looks forward to the war falling silent as soon as possible, when innocents will no longer be hurt,” adding that China would be providing emergency humanitarian assistance to Bangladesh to deal with the flood of refugees from Myanmar.

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Myanmar’s State Counsellor Aung San Suu Kyi delivers a televised speech to the nation at the Myanmar International Convention Center in Naypyitaw, Myanmar, Tuesday, Sept. 19, 2017. (AP Photo/Aung Shine Oo)

11:20 a.m.

Rohingya Muslims who fled violence in Myanmar are rejecting leader Aung San Suu Kyi’s claims that many members of their minority group are safe.

Suu Kyi said Tuesday that most Rohingya villages weren’t hit by violence. She invited foreign diplomats gathered in the capital for her speech to visit villages that were unaffected.

In the Kutupalong refugee camp in nearby Bangladesh, Abdul Hafiz says Rohingya once trusted Suu Kyi more than the military that ruled before her for half a century. Now he calls Suu Kyi a “liar” and says Rohingya are suffering more than ever.

Hafiz was angered by the implication that Rohingya who were driven from their villages were themselves responsible. He said if that’s true, Suu Kyi should give international journalists more access to their destroyed villages. If Rohingya are proven wrong, he says, “we will not mind if the world decides to kill us all by pushing us into the sea.”

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10:30 a.m.

Myanmar leader Aung San Suu Kyi is defending her country against international criticism over an exodus of hundreds of thousands of Rohingya Muslims by saying most of their villages remain intact, and that it’s important to understand why conflict did not break out everywhere.

The Nobel Peace laureate’s global image has been damaged by violence since Rohingya insurgents attacked Myanmar security forces on Aug. 25. More than 400,000 Rohingya have fled their villages, many of which have been burned. The government has blamed the Rohingya themselves, but members of the persecuted minority have said soldiers and Buddhist mobs attacked them.

Suu Kyi told foreign diplomats gathered in Naypyitaw that “more than half” of Rohingya villages were not affected by the violence. She invited the diplomats with visit those villages so they could learn along with the government “why are they not at each other’s throats in these particular areas.”

Related:

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Aung San Suu Kyi addresses nation on Rohingya violence in Myanmar

September 19, 2017

World leaders have said this speech is Aung San Suu Kyi’s last chance to avoid international action against Myanmar. A crackdown on the country’s Muslim minority has led to a mass exodus into Bangladesh.

 Myanmar leader Aung San Suu Kyi has addressed her nation in a hotly anticipated television address.
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Myanmar’s State Counsellor Aung San Suu Kyi delivers a televised speech to the nation at the Myanmar International Convention Center in Naypyitaw, Myanmar, Tuesday, Sept. 19, 2017. (AP Photo/Aung Shine Oo)

The 72-year-old Nobel laureate spoke about her country’s crackdown on the stateless Rohingya minority, which she had so far remained silent on. Her refusal to publicly urge restraint from the military had drawn international condemnation.

“We condemn all human rights violations and unlawful violence. We are committed to the restoration of peace and stability and rule of law throughout the state,” Suu Kyi said in Myanmar’s capital, Naypyidaw.

Before her live broadcast address, world powers had warned Myanmar of potential action if it did not act to end the crackdown on the Rohingya minority in Rakhine state.

Read more: Rohingya people in Myanmar: what you need to know

Suu Kyi said she “felt deeply” for the suffering of the civilians who were caught up in the conflict and that she wanted to end the suffering as soon as possible.

“We are concerned to hear the number of Muslims fleeing areas to Bangladesh,” she said, condemning any “human rights violations” that may have exacerbated the crisis. She asked for the international community’s help to finding a solution, adding that Myanmar did not fear international scrutiny.

UN probe ‘not helpful’

Yet one of her officials, Myanmar’s envoy to the UN Htin Lynn seemed to qualify that claim when he told the UN Human Rights Council on Tuesday that a UN-backed investigation into the crisis was “not a helpful course of action.”  He added “proportionate security measures, targeted only on terrorists, are being taken to safeguard our state sovereignty, and to restore law and order.”

During the meeting, the head of the probe said Suu Kyi’s government was not cooperating fully with his investigation. Marzuki Dursman said his team needed “full and unfettered access to the country” and that the inquest could not proceed “until there is a clear signal from the government of Myanmar that the fact-finding mission is in fact enabled to access into the country.”

Suu Kyi nevertheless invited diplomats to visit Rohingya Muslim villages in her speech, insisting that most had not been affected by the violence.

“The majority of Muslims have not joined the exodus,” she said. “We want to find out why this exodus is happening.”

Suu Kyi claims picture unclear

The de facto leader, propped up by the military that used to rule Myanmar outright and retains considerable influence, also claimed that there was no clear picture of the events in Rakhine state.

“We too are concerned. We want to find out what the real problems are. There have been allegations and counter-allegations. We have to listen to them all,” she said.

Suu Kyi promised to implement the recommendations of the Annan commission delivered in August. The commission, led by former UN Secretary General Kofi Annan, looked at how to solve the sectarian tensions in the country.

The report warned against using force and to end restrictions on movement and citizenship for Rohingya people.

International outrage has grown steadily in recent weeks over a military crackdown that has led to the exodus of more than 400,000 of Myanmar’s Muslim minority to neighboring Bangladesh in less than a month.

Myanmar’s government has blamed the crisis on Rohingya insurgents who attacked security posts in late August. But the United Nations has described its response as “ethnic cleansing.”

Read more:UN Security Council condemns excessive violence in Myanmar

‘Last Chance’

UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres had said on Monday the speech was “a last chance” for Suu Kyi to change her country’s course, speaking to the BBC.

British Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson met on the sidelines of a UN meeting with representatives from several countries to discuss the crisis. His US counterpart, Nikki Haley, called Monday’s meeting “productive” but voiced alarm at the lack of progress on the ground.

“The United States continues to urge the Burmese government to end military operations, grant humanitarian access and commit to aiding the safe return of civilians back to their homes,” she said.

French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian called for “a collective response by the international community” and “a system to try to ensure [the Rohingya’s] protection.”

amp, aw/msh (AFP, AP, dpa, Reuters)

Includes videos:

http://www.dw.com/en/aung-san-suu-kyi-addresses-nation-on-rohingya-violence-in-myanmar/a-40572212

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UN investigators demand ‘full, unfettered’ access to Myanmar

AFP

 
© AFP/File | A house burns in Gawdu Tharya village near Maungdaw in Rakhine state, northern Myanmar, on September 7, 2017
GENEVA (AFP) – UN human rights investigators on Tuesday said they needed “full and unfettered” access to Myanmar to investigate a grave and ongoing crisis, but the government renewed its rejection of the probe.”It is important for us to see with our own eyes the sites of these alleged violations”, the head of UN-backed fact-finding mission, Marzuki Darusman, told the Human Rights Council, asking for “full and unfettered access to the country.”

“There is a grave humanitarian crisis underway that requires urgent attention”, he added.

The council set up the mission in March to investigate possible violations across Myanmar, with a particular focus on alleged crimes committed against Rohingya Muslims in Rakhine state.

Myanmar’s civilian leader Aung San Suu Kyi has repeatedly denounced the UN probe as unhelpful and vowed that her government would not cooperate with it.

Suu Kyi earlier Tuesday delivered a nationally televised address on the Rohingya crisis, appealing for outside observers to visit Myanmar and see the situation for themselves, in a speech aimed at appeasing an international community horrified by the army-led violence in Rakhine.

But hours after that speech, Myanmar’s UN ambassador Htin Lynn re-asserted his government?s “position of disassociating herself from the resolution” that set up the fact-finding mission.

“We continue to believe that instituting such a mission is not a helpful course of action in solving the already-intricated Rakhine issue”, he told the council.

Darusman had upped the pressure on Myanmar to grant access, arguing it was “in the government?s interest and in the interests of the people of Myanmar to communicate their views and evidence directly to the (UN) mission.”

He added that the probe “had urgently dispatched a team to Bangladesh”, where more than 400,000 Rohingya have fled army operations in recent weeks.

The UN investigator, an Indonesian national and veteran of past UN investigations including a ground-breaking report on slave labour in North Korea, warned that Myanmar had the “danger signs” of a crisis that could worsen.

He noted reports that some in majority Buddhist Myanmar had spread propaganda that “compared the Rohingya to pests”.

Bangladesh Will Set Aside Disagreement With Myanmar to Ease Rice Shortage — “The Chinese government says the Rohingya issue doesn’t affect us and by supporting Aung San Suu Kyi we don’t lose anything.”

September 18, 2017

DHAKA — Bangladesh is to buy rice from Myanmar, putting aside worsening relations over the Rohingya refugee crisis as the government races to overcome a shortage of the country’s staple food.

Normally the world’s fourth biggest rice producer, Bangladesh has become a major importer this year after floods hit its crops, sending domestic rice prices to record highs.

The government has already secured deals to buy rice from Vietnam and Cambodia as domestic stocks diminished.

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“We’ll buy 100,000 tonnes of white rice from Myanmar at $442 a ton,” its food minister, Qamrul Islam, said on Monday.

“It will take some time to complete formalities. Then shipment will start,” he told reporters.

Rice is a staple food for Bangladesh’s 160 million people and high prices pose a problem for the government which faces a national election next year.

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Bangladeshi boatmen ferrying Rohingya refugees this month across the Naf River, which separates Myanmar and Bangladesh. CreditAdam Dean for The New York Times

HONG KONG — Despite international condemnation of Myanmar’s campaign of violence against the Rohingya people, there have been few calls for a return to the sort of sanctions that were long a feature of the country’s relationship with the West.

After a Rohingya militant group attacked police outposts last month, Myanmar’s military, along with vigilante groups, launched a crackdown in the western state of Rakhine, triggering a refugee crisis that has sent more than 400,000 Rohingya fleeing to neighboring Bangladesh.

On Monday, Boris Johnson, Britain’s foreign secretary, is scheduled to lead a discussion of the Rohingya crisis among foreign ministers attending the United Nations General Assembly. Daw Aung San Suu Kyi, the de facto head of Myanmar’s government, last week decided not to attend the General Assembly, where she would likely face a flood of criticism.

But despite the expected criticism, analysts say the United Nations is unlikely to act against Myanmar. Myanmar’s government has said it was working with Russia and China to block any efforts to punish it over the crackdown in Rakhine State.

The Security Council did condemn the violence last week, its first such unified statement on Myanmar in nine years. But China blocked an effort by Egypt to add language calling for Rohingya refugees to be guaranteed the right to return to Myanmar from Bangladesh, Agence France-Presse reported. The government of Myanmar, a majority-Buddhist country, does not recognize the Rohingya, most of whom are Muslim, as citizens.

With regional powers vying to gain influence in Myanmar, China’s government sees potential benefit in backing Ms. Aung San Suu Kyi and her party, the National League for Democracy, while she faces international criticism, said Yun Sun, a scholar at the Stimson Center in Washington.

“This is basically an opportunity for China and a vulnerability of Aung San Suu Kyi,” she said. “The Chinese government says the Rohingya issue doesn’t affect us and by supporting Aung San Suu Kyi we don’t lose anything.”

Read the rest:

Anti-Communist Mob Attacks Indonesia Meeting, 22 Arrested

September 18, 2017

JAKARTA, Indonesia — A mob opposed to public discussion of Indonesia’s 1965 massacre of communists tried to force its way into a Jakarta building where they believed communists were meeting, injuring five policemen.

Jakarta police spokesman Argo Yuwono said 22 people were arrested early Monday for rioting and five officers were injured in the confrontation.

The melee came a day after police blockaded the building on Saturday to stop a public forum on the massacre, in which historians say half a million people were killed, from going ahead.

Bonnie Setiawan, an organizer of the forum, said about 200 people were trapped in the building, which is home to a legal aid institute, for hours on Sunday night while more than 1,000 people protested outside.

The protesters shouted that the people inside were members of the long-outlawed Indonesian Communist Party and threw rocks, breaking windows, he said.

Indonesia held a ground-breaking symposium on the massacre last year, breaking a half century of near silence on the issue, but the military, Islamic groups and senior figures in the government are opposed to unearthing the truth, saying it could revive communism.

The Indonesian Communist Party was the third largest in the world with an estimated 3 million members when an unsuccessful coup by pro-communist military officers in 1965 triggered a monthslong bloodletting by the army and Islamic groups that engulfed the country and ushered in the Suharto dictatorship.

Yuwono said police blockaded the forum on Saturday because organizers hadn’t requested permission for it.

Setiawan said police had violated the constitutional rights to freedom of association and assembly. The meeting on Sunday was intended as a discussion of challenges to democracy in Indonesia, he said.

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Fake news about communism in Indonesia blamed for triggering riot in Jakarta

By Jewel Topsfield

Fake news about Indonesia’s omnipresent bogeyman – communism – has been blamed for riots in Central Jakarta that injured five police officers and damaged vehicles in the early hours of Monday morning.

Police were forced to fire tear gas and water cannons to disperse anti-communist protesters who began to pelt police with water bottles and stones and attempted to force their way into the offices of the Jakarta Legal Aid Institute.

A weekend seminar on the 1965 anti-communist purge – a dark chapter in Indonesia’s history that remains extremely sensitive today – had already been banned by police on the grounds the organisers had not applied for a permit.

But this did not stop crowds chanting “Crush the PKI” (the now defunct Indonesian communist party) and surrounding the institute building.

The Indonesian Legal Aid Institute claimed “clearly hoaxes or false news have been broadcast … with instructions for attacking (the institute) done systematically and extensively”.

It asserted false claims included that the planned historical seminar was a re-emergence of the PKI and participants intended to sing genjer-genjer, one of the most controversial songs in Indonesia.

Genjer-genjer, which was adopted as a protest song by the PKI, was banned under the Suharto regime, amid military claims that female communists had tortured six generals while singing the song.

“People said we are PKI – that’s the hoax,” Muhammad Isnur from the Indonesian Legal Aid Institute told Fairfax Media.

“They said PKI was holding an event. It’s not true. We wanted to hold an academic discussion about what happened in 1965.”

Police have arrested five people suspected of provoking the riots.

Jakarta police spokesman Argo Yuwono told Fairfax Media that police had informed the institute that the planned seminar could not go ahead because the organisers did not have a permit.

But Mr Isnur said the police were “just making it up”. “Why would we need a permit for an internal, closed door discussion in our own office? We hold discussions every day.”

The 1965 tragedy was triggered by the kidnapping and murder of several high-ranking army officers, which was blamed on the PKI.

Last month Indonesian authorities disbanded a workshop in East Java on the findings of an international tribunal into the 1965 massacre – also on the grounds organisers didn’t have a permit.

In 2015 the Ubud Writers Festival cancelled sessions discussing 1965 – the first act of censorship in the history of the popular international event.

Amnesty International issued a statement last month saying there had been at least 39 cases since 2015 where authorities disbanded events related to 1965.

“These actions are a clear violation of the rights to freedom of expression and peaceful assembly,” Amnesty said.

Asked if hoax news had inflamed tensions at the weekend, Mr Argo said: “Listen, if people get together to make speeches, discussion, dialogue, they must notify the police, this should be understood by people who work in the legal business.”

Fake news was a huge problem in Indonesia in the lead-up to the gubernatorial election in February, with much of it targeting the ethnicity of former Jakarta governor Basuki “Ahok” Tjahaja Purnama.

Hoax news included that Indonesia was being flooded by 10 million Chinese workers, that its new currency bore an image of the banned communist hammer and sickle, that Ahok’s free Human Papillomavirus vaccine program could make girls infertile and that China was waging biological warfare against Indonesia with contaminated chilli seeds.

Smear campaigns during the last presidential election also asserted President Joko Widodo was a Christian and communist.

“Don’t forget, negative (news), slander, reproaching each other, hoax and fake news are spreading in social media today. They also become our challenge in the future,” President Jokowi told a group of boys scouts in Central Java on Monday.

Last month police arrested three people accused of spreading hoaxes against President Jokowi and Ahok, among others, on a “news” website known as saracen, which allegedly charges clients to publish and spread fake news.

“There is clearly a growing industry around the production of disinformation (false information spread to deliberately deceive) in Indonesia and elsewhere around the world,” says Australian National University academic Ross Tapsell, an expert on social media in Indonesia.

“Of course, Indonesia has a long history of government and non-government anti-PKI propaganda designed to incite and enrage,” he said.

“So the material may not have changed, but the technology used to disseminate it is changing rapidly.”

http://www.smh.com.au/world/fake-news-about-communism-in-indonesia-blamed-for-triggering-riot-in-jakarta-20170918-gyjuxv.html

Top India court hears plea against Rohingya deportation — Indian constitution “provides equal rights and liberty to every person”

September 18, 2017

AFP

© AFP | Rohingya have been leaving mainly Buddhist Myanmar in steady numbers for years before the military crackdown last month that opened the floodgates, with thousands ending up in India

NEW DELHI (AFP) – India’s Supreme Court on Monday began hearing a plea challenging a government decision to deport up to 40,000 Muslim Rohingya who have fled Myanmar, a lawyer said.The petition was filed on behalf of two Rohingya living at a refugee camp in New Delhi since escaping Myanmar, where a military crackdown since August 25 has led to more than 400,000 Rohingya taking refuge in Bangladesh.

The challenge came after India’s junior home minister Kiren Rijiju said last month the government would expel all Rohingya, even those registered with the United Nations.

According to media reports, the government will argue that the Rohingya are a security threat who could aid terrorists.

The Rohingya have denied any link with Islamic extremist groups. Lawyer Prashant Bhushan, representing the Rohingya, said the Indian constitution “provides equal rights and liberty to every person”, including non-citizens.

The United Nations says there are 16,000 registered Rohingya in India. But many more are undocumented.

About 7,000 Rohingya live in shanties in India’s Jammu region in the Himalayas. They say they have faced hostility from the majority Hindu community there.

Mohammad Salimullah, one of the petitioners, said the authorities had always been helpful in New Delhi so he was hopeful the court would back the refugees.

“In the five or six years that we have been here, we have never felt that we are foreigners here nor have we ever felt any kind of fear,” Salimullah told AFP ahead of the case.

The Rohingya have been leaving mainly Buddhist Myanmar — where the government calls them illegal migrants and refuses them nationality — in steady numbers for years before the military crackdown last month that opened the floodgates.

While Bangladesh has been the main destination, some have ended up in neighbouring India and Nepal. There are also some in Pakistan.